UK: Victims of domestic violence can form particular social group according to Upper Tribunal

Monday, December 12, 2016

In a case concerning an Albanian woman who was a victim of domestic violence and has applied for asylum in the UK, the Upper Tribunal has ruled the following:

  1. The appellant could form a particular social group in two ways. First, as she is a woman. Second, as she is a woman who has been victim of domestic violence. It should be emphasized that being a refugee and being a victim of domestic violence are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, the definition of a particular social group is as follows: the group has a distinct identity because it is perceived as different by the surrounding society. Victims who left would be “branded for life” as someone who has dishonoured her community are a particular social group.
  2. The appellant has been a victim of persecution. It is not deemed necessary to decide whether every sexual act in the marriage was consensual. As the appellant was repeatedly beaten in different ways on different occasions, the ill-treatment was sufficiently severe as to amount to persecution.

The Upper Tribunal has adjourned the hearing for final determination as there is still missing evidence as to decide whether the appellant runs a risk of persecution or other serious ill-treatment in the event of her return to Tirana as a victim of domestic violence. In particular, two uncertainties remain. First, there might be no effective protection in Tirana, Albania. A lone woman with a child is unusual in Tirana and attracts attention, so there is possibility that appellant is being identified to her former husband. Second, it might be wrong to rely on case MK (Lesbians) Albania to support the argument that a woman could live on her own in Tirana, since it has been overturned by the Court of Appeal. The Upper Tribunal has asked the parties to submit further evidence.

The ELENA Weekly Legal Update would like to thank S. Chelvan for providing us with this information.

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Membership of a particular social group
Persecution (acts of)
Persecution Grounds/Reasons
Vulnerable person